Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In Ruin and Rising both character and plot are equally compelling. Thank goodness for the same. There’s few moments of the Darkling- Alina- Mal conundrum here since it’s already clear what the roles each have so that things become more than her as Saint, or Mal as friend then (reluctant) lover, or even Darkling as the one to overcome. What they all do is reveal sides unexpected (or maybe expected, as I have been conflicted over whom to root for since Day One.)
Because while Mal had me giddy over declarations and actions of a certain nature, it was still Darkling who had me considering possibilities. As did Alina, with her little moments of ‘who am I then who are you’ as well as the identity versus the distance she felt existed between her and certain key others. In fact, for a good chunk of this book, it is Alina alone then Mal alone then Darkling too; few instances is it really any of them together; it’s in that separation, that the unexpected unfold.
Things begin with Alina isolated and struggling to access her abilities. It’s in her isolation that things clear up regarding where loyalties are. But more, there’s clarity added to what she has to. And things really do fall to her, that she’s surrounded with so many does not take away from that. Yet, it’s also in being surrounded that the truth of purpose as well as history is revealed. And I tell you…. all those twists, all those reveals! Agh! Thus, events begin then progress at a break neck pace: her alone, then them together and then her, then them, considering the next step, only to have more people joining in on the fray, and only for more revelations to be made.
In the midst of all that are secondary characters who add to the complication; yet they’re necessary complications that made for an even more compelling read. They each had a role, they all had a contribution- some more than others- but all of them propelled the reader forward. The people she’d chosen or the people who had chosen her make it clear the story really is more than her. Nikolai and Genya in particular stood out for me for that reason. In the two of them we have someone’s history connecting with someone else’s; in them, we have someone’s purpose coinciding with another’s. There’s connection here. And I loved that. In fact, it’s those connections, those reveals as well as those multiple swoon-moments that have me impressed. All aspects of the story are dealt with, not much is left untouched… whether it be who Darkling could be, or who Alina was to become, or even Mal, or hell, the rest of them; everything then everyone takes part in this conclusion.
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